New Milford neighbors bring a 'twist' to the holiday season with lights competition

NEW MILFORD — A neighborhood in the Gaylordsville section of town is sharing holiday cheer in a unique way.

Residents of Colonial Ridge Drive, Pilgrim’s Way and Hemlock Lane held a holiday lights competition and sip and stroll Sunday as a way to lift spirits during this holiday season.

“It was so much fun,” said Meg Shaw, who coordinated the event that was first thought of by neighbor Erica Cabrera.

Cabrera suggested the concept to a few neighbors. After conferring with Cabrera, Shaw took the lead a month ago and posted the concept on the neighborhood’s social media page.

“We all know each other and schedule nights to do things together,” Shaw said, noting how the social media page has afforded residents the opportunity to get to learn more about each other.

Neighbors were receptive to the idea of decorating and having a friendly competition, with the winner being awarded “bragging rights,” Cabrera said. Votes for the best display were still be tabulated as of Tuesday.

The initial concept grew quickly. Someone suggested incorporating a type of sip and stroll, since the local Sip & Stroll was canceled downtown due to the pandemic.

Participating residents signed up to put juice boxes, water bottles, hot cocoa or other family friendly drinks and snacks on small tables at the end of their driveway for neighbors to pick up as they strolled the neighborhood.

Shaw outlined guidelines for safety, and residents followed them, according to resident Chris Goodrich, whose family participated in the festivities.

On Sunday, neighbors headed outdoors to walk around the three roads to view the holiday lights.

“It was great to see everybody. Everyone was in a great mood,” said Goodrich, who said he annually decorates for Christmas but stepped it up this year.

Goodrich said he was impressed with the number of neighbors who participated. “It was nice to see the community come together,” he said.

“I’ve always been into Christmas lights and go overboard,” Goodrich said. “And even now this year, unfortunately, I ran out of trees in the yard, so I found other things to decorate.”

Shaw said as the event approached, she saw more neighbors get involved.

“There were more and more lights, more inflatables,” she said. “It was really fun to see.”

Goodrich said he used close to 100 sets of lights in his front yard and enjoyed the help he got from his children, Haley, 11, and Quinn, 8.

“I’m hoping everyone does this moving forward,” Goodrich said of the event. “It’s been a good twist to everything going on.”